So I’ve worked in marketing for a while. This doesn’t mean I had any clue where to BEGIN when I decided I wanted to start off freelance.
I’ve done various forms of content writing throughout my career, so to move into something more content-focussed isn’t too big a leap. If I wanted to throw the towel in and become a biomedical scientist, I imagine it’d be a hell of a lot harder.
From what I figure, you have a few options if you’re starting out freelance.
- Build your brand up and hope clients come to you
- Seek clients via traditional job postings (although these tend to want people on board full time or on a contracted basis)
- Seek clients via remote work positions
- Seek clients via agencies
- Send off hopeful submissions to websites in the hope you get a publishing credit
Let’s take this one by one shall we?
Building up your brand and hoping clients come to you
This will 100% be the slowest way of attaining business, so if earning money in the short-term is important for you (as I would imagine it probably is) I definitely don’t recommend this.
Brand building requires a few different balls to be in the air at once and it takes time to build up yourself, your audience and then convert that engagement into clients willing to pay money.
It also requires a lot of time and input commitment on your part – as you will need to be online, present and selling yourself regularly to maintain the footholds you’ve clawed out for yourself.
Seek clients via traditional job postings
This is possibly the easiest way of getting some work initially, even though the application processes this way tend to be more time consuming for you, as you’re effectively applying for a job each time you’re bidding for work.
It’s a good idea to set up alerts on a few different websites, so that you can have a steady stream of options coming into your inbox (e.g. Reed, Indeed.) You can upload your CV and pre-write a covering letter on both of these, so they save you a bit of time.
Seek clients via remote work positions
Remote working gives you the same flexibility as freelance, as often they’ll contract you on a part time or project by project basis. You need to check each position before you apply, but some great sites for job hunting this way are Remotive, Remote.co)
Seek clients via agencies
Be careful with agencies. They take a cut of your earnings, so you’re never realising your full earning potential. However, they can be a good stop-gap to make sure you’ve got some money coming in while you get your ducks in a row applying for longer-term positions or trying to attract more clients.
You also need to see whether there’s a subscription fee, because this can often outweigh the potential benefit. One of the agencies I signed up for, Contena, held so much promise! The initial outlay felt like a lot ($99 dollars, which equated to around £89 per month) but the marketing around it makes you pretty darn sure you’ll find your first client in this time, so in my mind, it was a worthy investment.
I wasn’t able to get a client onboard, so then it was just me bleeding money I didn’t have. Read my full review of it here, because I think it may very well be of help to you if you’re stateside. They also have a money-back guarantee, so it’s relatively risk-free in that sense if you end up being unlucky like I was. There are a heap of positives as well, so check back for a full review.
Another agency I signed up for was Fiverr. Fiverr is asking you to promote your services for, guess what, a fiver. Which is low. I mean, a fiver for a blog post is insanely low. The quantity you’d need to produce to be earning sufficiently per hour versus the time it would take you to produce all that content are disproportionate. Again, potentially a good stop gap but not recommended for a long-term business plan.
Send off hopeful submissions
Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of this:
You might get published
You might get paid
You might not get published
You might not get paid
You’ve still invested the time in producing a piece of content
So here’s what I rationalised when it comes to sending off hopeful submissions. Send them work you’ve already invested your time in, perhaps work you’ve already self-published somewhere like LinkedIn or Medium. Don’t invest in new work unless you’re able to self-publish it as well. Your time is your money, so make sure you’re balancing the spending and earning in both senses.
Finally, here’s something extra that sounds obvious but that you should definitely do:
Tell your friends and family you’re going freelance
Mention it to them. Reach out to anyone that you think it would be relevant to. I’ve already had one friend put me in touch with someone and another friend give someone my email address.
In the words of Tesco: every little helps.